MALE, Maldives — A coalition of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), led by social enterprise Common Seas, has made an urgent appeal to world leaders to address the existential threat posed by plastic pollution, at the United Nations Plastics Treaty negotiations in Paris. This comes after a week of slow progress in the negotiations, with the plea emphasizing the unique vulnerabilities of these islands to climate change, rising sea levels, and an escalating plastic pollution crisis.
Grenada is among the SIDS taking the lead in pressing for the UN Plastics Treaty to be crafted in a way that specifically protects these high-risk states. The island nations' economies and societal well-being hinge greatly on the health of their oceans and coastlines, yet their ability to manage waste effectively is severely limited.
The initiative is backed by prominent international entities and experts including Peter Thomson, the UN Special Envoy for the Ocean, Common Seas, and Searious Business.
The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-2) has been in session to negotiate the details of the UN Plastics Treaty. With plastic production projected to double by 2030, the crisis facing island nations is intensifying.
Peter Thomson stressed the urgent need for action, stating that the “trident of risks - climate change, rising sea levels, and plastic” represents a serious existential threat. He called for the co-designing of a UN Plastics Treaty that safeguards countries on the frontline of these challenges, adding, "A Treaty that works for SIDS, works for the world."
The Hon. Kerryne James, Grenada’s Minister of Climate Resilience, The Environment and Renewable Energy, emphasised the reliance of small islands like Grenada on their natural environments for economic prosperity, from tourism to fishing and marine industries. She stressed the need for cooperative action to fight plastic pollution and safeguard both the livelihoods of the islanders and marine biodiversity.
Common Seas CEO, Jo Royle, echoed these sentiments, highlighting that although SIDS steward approximately a third of the world's oceans and maintain some of the planet's most treasured habitats, they produce little plastic themselves. Yet, without global policy change, these states could be inundated by plastic pollution.
Royle stressed the need for the island nations to continue asserting their collective voice and outlined their demands for a highly ambitious treaty, which includes a legally binding cap on plastic production.
Searious Business CEO, Willemijin Peeters, reminded the international community that small island states can only do so much on their own. There is an urgent need for international action to stem the upstream flow of plastic pollution.